The BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art has announced the appointment of Sarah Munro as the gallery’s new Director. Munro will join in November 2015, directing BALTIC’s world-class programme of international contemporary art, following the departure of Godfrey Worsdale.
Munro joins BALTIC with 20 years experience of cultural leadership following a distinguished career in Glasgow as both Artistic Director of Tramway and Head of Arts for the city, where she led the bid to bring Turner Prize 2015 to Scotland for the first time.
As Head of Arts for Glasgow Life since 2012, Munro’s current post has incorporated her role at the international arts centre Tramway, as well as responsibility for a portfolio that includes: Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art, Gallery of Modern Art’s temporary exhibitions programme and the Merchant City Festival. She has also led a team of arts producers that work across some of the most disadvantaged communities in Glasgow.
As Head of Arts, Sarah Munro was instrumental in the initiation and co-production of ‘Generation, 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland’. This major series of exhibitions in 2014 was shown at over 60 venues celebrating a generation of internationally renowned artists that have emerged from Scotland in the last 25 years including: Martin Boyce, Cathy Wilkes, Douglas Gordon, Christine Borland, Claire Barclay, Michael Fullerton and Duncan Campbell, among many others. The project attracted over 1.4 million visitors and initiated a ground-breaking new model of collaboration between the National Galleries of Scotland, Creative Scotland, and the wider visual arts sector.
Prior to this, as Artistic Director of Tramway from 2008 to 2012, Munro led the revitalisation of the centre’s public programming including visual arts and dance, which increased attendance at the venue by more than two thirds, and enhanced both their critical reputation and audience engagement. From 1996 until 2008, as Director at the Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, Munro transformed the organisation into an internationally recognised space with a unique position in Scotland.
While at Tramway and Collective Gallery, Munro curated, commissioned and produced over 200 exhibitions, performances and offsite projects; from working with and nurturing with emerging talents to realising complex new commissions for internationally renowned artists including Mike Nelson, Wael Shawky, Sarah Lucas, Lara Favoretta, Jannis Kounellis, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd and Christoph Buchel. From ambitious solo shows through to initiatives including New Work Scotland and Dance International Glasgow, Munro has created the conditions that both support artists to take risks, experiment and enable new models for artists and audiences to collaborate (One Mile, Edinburgh; Albert Drive, Glasgow).
Sarah Munro is Chair of Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art; Vice Chair of the Pier Art Centre, Orkney and Advisory Member for MLitt Curatorial Practice (Contemporary Art), Glasgow School of Art/Glasgow University. She gained an MA (Hons) in Politics and Philosophy from University of Dundee and holds a PG Diploma from City University, London.
Sarah Munro confirmed: ‘I am thrilled to be given this opportunity, not only of leading one of the best contemporary art spaces in Europe, but of playing an exciting role in supporting the cultural infrastructure of Gateshead and the North East of England. It was always going to have to be something very special to lure me out of Scotland, and BALTIC is just that – an incredible building, highly skilled and knowledgeable staff, mixed with the warmth of the local people – it’s simply irresistible. There is a really energised artistic community of artists and cultural organisations in Gateshead and the wider region, both confident and ambitious, which makes this an incredibly exciting time to join BALTIC.’
Peter Buchan, Chair of BALTIC Board of Trustees, said: ‘I am thrilled that Sarah has accepted the appointment as BALTIC’s new Director. Her undoubted success in developing the lively and world class arts and cultural scene in Glasgow makes her the ideal person to join BALTIC and build on the achievements we have made over thirteen years. Munro is a passionate and ambitious cultural leader with a proven track record in showcasing the best of international contemporary art, strong collaboration and energising artistic communities and creative industries. We are confident Sarah will lead BALTIC on to further strengths as a world-renowned institution.”
Peter Heslip, Director of Visual Arts, Arts Council England, added: ‘We are very excited about the appointment of Sarah Munro. She brings a wealth of experience from her time in Glasgow and a clear vision which will build on BALTIC’s achievements to date. We were particularly impressed with Sarah’s commitment to audiences and support for the growing community of visual artists based in the region. She joins a group of leaders who have a shared ambition to further develop the North East’s role on an international stage.’
Councillor Mick Henry, Leader of Gateshead Council said: ‘Gateshead Council welcomes the appointment of Sarah Munro. An outstanding candidate with a proven track record, Sarah embodies the ambitions of Gateshead Council in providing an internationally recognised Contemporary Art Gallery that has strong impact and deep connections with our local communities. We look forward to working with her in taking BALTIC to what I’m sure will be an exciting future.’